Spring Contest Winner--Irene Sullivan!
WOW: Irene, congratulations to you for placing as one of our Runners Up! How does it feel? Irene
: It feels great! I was a journalist before I became a lawyer so it’s wonderful to be back writing again. WOW: I’m glad you decided to come back. What inspired the idea behind “Save the Last Dance for Me”? Was there anything from real life inside your story? Irene
: Putting my mother into assisted living. Also, living in an area where lots of elderly people are getting married again. WOW: That’s a great pull from life, and you have many areas from which to draw stories. In your bio you mentioned that you preside in the Unified Family Court, handling various cases and family matters. Of course, this is a single mention among many of your professional credits. Do you find that this career plays a role in your writing? Or would you say your writing gives you a completely “other” world in which to explore or escape? Irene
: Both. I am presently working on a novel and a memoir based on the stories I hear in juvenile and family court. However, short stories and “flash fiction” are more escapist, as I love to let my imagination run from the “prompt.” WOW: We’re so glad to hear that our contest helps provide an escape, among its other benefits and, hopefully, its motivational side. Have you found inspiration from other books or authors? Irene
: Of course. Scott Turow is my favorite legal mystery writer. I’ve read all his books. The variety of talent is amazing. I really enjoyed The Glass Castle
, by Jeannette Walls, and The Kite Runner
. WOW: Scott Turow is a writer and an attorney. I’d imagine he draws upon experience much like you will in your future novels. Speaking of drawing from life, do you have specific long-term goals for your writing career? Irene
: My goal is to finish my novel and my memoir, get them published and perhaps create a series featuring a juvenile judge. WOW: That series sounds fascinating. Please make sure to send us an announcement when you meet that goal. Of course, we learned in your bio that in addition to your Juris Doctor degree, you received an undergraduate degree in journalism. Has this undergrad degree helped you in any way with your writing? Irene
: I hope the writing skills are returning, after having been buried for many years in “legalese.” WOW: I’d say from your entry that’s a definite. What in life inspires you the most for your writing endeavors? Irene
: The complicated lives of the children I see in court, and the stories that they tell. WOW: Would you like to end on some motivating words to our audience of writers? Irene
: Don’t worry about getting it right, just write!!!! WOW: You have precision in your writing and your words. No one should procrastinate, just write! Thanks for your time, your wisdom, and your entry. We wish you well with all your future goals.
To read Irene's winning entry, go to Save the Last Dance for Me
Labels: women writers, WOW Spring 2007 Contest
Spring 2007 Contest--Runner Up!
WOW: Renise, congratulatory hugs to you for placing as one of our Runners Up! How do you feel? Renise:
I’m still getting over the shock of having my first flash fiction story published. I love going to the WOW!
site and seeing my work alongside women whose writing I truly respect-- it’s a very humbling experience. WOW: Thanks for the compliment. We're glad it's a positive shock. Could you tell us a little about your story and what encouraged the idea behind “Thanks for Ruining My Dinner”? Was there anything from real life that played a part in your story’s creation? Renise:
The title was inspired by my Mom who never hesitates to speak her mind. When I give her news she doesn’t agree with, especially news about a new boyfriend or other interest, she adamantly states “thanks for ruining my dinner.” I’ve yet to figure out how serious she really is about this proclamation. WOW (laughs): Maybe after she reads this interview, she’ll give you an answer! Could you tell us a little about yourself and what fascinates you? Renise:
I am fascinated by human experiences of all sorts and find people watching to be the best way to pass time as a result. My most memorable experience observing others came when I was studying the Negritude literature movement in Paris. I was unfamiliar with the language so the only connection I had to those around me was to observe their mannerisms and try to connect on the most basic levels. WOW: That does sound enlightening, even on those basic levels. Have you found enlightenment or inspiration from other books or authors you could recommend? Renise:
Recently, Steven Pressfield’s War of Art
has had the biggest impact on me, but I’ve fallen in love with the powerful African American characters of Pearl Cleage; the life she breathes into her characters is immaculate. WOW: Yes, I think it’s fair to say that many readers have fallen in love with her work. In fact, one of her books, What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day was an Oprah Book Club pick and it also spent nine weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. She surely meets her goals. What about you, do you have any specific long-term goals for your writing career? Renise:
My long term goal is to open a publishing house for African American writers telling the stories of people and places that would otherwise go unheard of. In the meantime I am focused on building Young Savvy
, a lifestyle redesign company devoted to motivating young adults to create the life they dream of living in spite of resistance and barriers.WOW: That’s a goal worth sweating over. Could you share other goals related to your writing? Out of the other works you’ve written, could you describe your favorite one or more in a little detail? Renise:
Unlike “Thanks For Ruining My Dinner,” I write a lot of serious stories based on my life. Although it’s very emotional, I’m currently developing a piece dedicated to my Granny who recently passed from Carcinoid Cancer. I want people to read it and recognize the value in taking a break from their daily grind when personal tragedy hits. WOW: That’s a valuable point to make. Sharing something so personal always benefits others. You’ve already answered my next question about the areas or genres in which you prefer to write. Do you want to add anything here? Renise:
Like many writers, I started out simply writing in my journal. Removed from the pains of judgment my journal has always been a sacred space for creation, release, and meditation so that is the kind of writing that will always remain dearest to my heart. WOW: How true. A writer’s journal is sacred. Sometimes, when I’m lacking motivation, I reread certain parts in mine. It usually helps me get moving again. Could you end on some motivating words for our audience? Renise:
Too often people get stuck thinking that they want to become a writer. If you write then you are already a writer, you just need to let the world know and continue perfecting your craft. WOW: Well said, again. You’ve made many solid points and thoughtful comments. Thanks, Renise, for taking the time to respond to my questions and for sharing a part of yourself with our readers. Good luck to you, your writing, and your project, Young Savvy. Oh, and good luck to your mother. Since she “never hesitates to speak her mind,” I imagine you might not hesitate, either. ;-)
Well, there you have it, ladies, another success story. Go check out Young Savvy
! I just checked--she has a new site!
Labels: flash fiction contest winner, WOW Spring 2007 Contest, writing competition
Laura Seltz -- Spring '07 Runner Up
We had a chance to chat with spring contest runner up, Laura Seltz. Read ahead for an energized interview!WOW: Laura, kudos to you for placing as one of our Runners Up! How do you feel? Laura:
I’m thrilled, particularly to be on a list with such fine writers and in a publication I admire.WOW: Thanks for your kind words! These compliments encourage us to push forward. Could you tell us what encouraged the idea behind “Marriage of the Living Dead”?Laura:
Fun was my first inspiration. I know that writing is a demanding, painstaking craft, but it also can be joyful. But the story has its message as it pokes fun at the way we can play dead in our relationships. We can become the ‘living dead’ so easily, especially if we stop paying attention to each other. WOW: That’s an interesting take on relationships. It's so true, too. In your bio you mentioned that you’ve been teaching for seventeen years. Does teaching play a role in your creative thinking? Laura:
Of course! Young people are among the most authentic writers I know because their writing comes directly from their experiences. My job as a teacher is to see the possibilities in each piece of writing, so the writer can learn to craft words in a way that will reach an audience. I find that inspiring. WOW: I’d bet you’ve inspired many of your students to excel. Have you found inspiration from other books or authors you could recommend?Laura:
Can I have ten pages to answer this one? I love the classics, but recently my joy has come from writers who can delight me. Elizabeth Peters, Carl Hiaasen, Christopher Moore, and Douglass Adams are among my favorites.
Hiaasen in particular has a way of cutting to issues he’s passionate about with style and humor. You hardly know that you’ve been reading political satire until you find yourself joining the Sierra Club a few days after reading one of his books.WOW: Delight is definitely important, and I’m glad you pointed that out. Do you have specific and delightful long-term goals for your writing career? Laura:
Like most writers, to make a living being published regularly as a respected professional. If I merely get the chance to delight a few people, that’s enough, too. WOW: We also learned in your bio that you’re currently working on the second novel in Maggie Cohen: Vampire Police series. Could you tell us a little about the book and/or about the first one in the series? Laura:
Thanks for the question. I’ll shamelessly plug my novel.
The cynical, wry Maggie brings me joy. She’s not exactly enthusiastic about being a vampire. She became a vampire the usual way, on a blind date with a guy with very bad breath who turned very weird, and she hates drinking blood. But she has good values. Her motto is: “Do the next right thing.” So she does.
In the first book, Maggie, like many women, has to stop hiding from her own power. A crime-spree hits her community when her friend’s manuscript is stolen. (It’s a manuscript for a vampire novel. Do you sense a theme here?) Then blood goes missing from the vampire-infested ER at the local hospital, and a truck carrying papaya flavored blood is hijacked from Boris’s Blood Factory (subsidiary of Eternal Rest Mortuary Services). Oh, and Maggie’s friend Michelle sets her up on a blind date. Maggie considers this the worst crime of all.
Of course, romance develops with that blind date and also with a handsome human detective. In the end, she has to stop a psychic killer from destroying her community. I give the poor vamp a lot to contend with, but she’s tough.
I found great joy in creating Maggie’s world, with its tabby cat vampire king, Piper (modeled after my sister’s imperious cat), vampire dogs, and a vampire sage who holds court at the Quick Mart. It’s a world turned on its end, for here the vampires are generally the good guys, while the humans struggle with morality.
The second novel will take Maggie to Las Vegas, if she doesn’t get killed first. (I have to see what Rowling does to Harry Potter. I love J.K. Rowling, but if she kills off Harry, I might have to stop writing in protest. Maybe I’ll stage a ‘write-in’ instead. Anyone want to join?)WOW: Your novel’s world sounds intriguing. Please send us an announcement went it comes out. Since you’re writing about the living dead, where do you find inspiration for your subjects and characters? Laura:
I see the living dead walking about me all the time; sometimes I probably fall into the role quite nicely myself. It’s just habit. When we stop finding joy in our existence, in each other, and in our world, I think we become lifeless.
But living can also be delightfully ridiculous. I know I do something completely silly at least once a day. It’s my humanity break. WOW: “Humanity break”…now, that sounds refreshing and re-motivating. Could you end on some motivating words to our audience of writers?Laura:
Find delight in life. That means finding joy in your own peculiar, powerful, sometimes ridiculous being. Find joy in others. Dare to have fun writing. I think we become authentic when we stop taking ourselves so seriously. Then the important messages can come through.
We get all sorts of advice about our craft: it’s hard work, we must revise constantly, we should expect a project to be more challenging than we envision, we’ve got to write every day, etc. It’s great advice, and as a professional, I follow it.
But I want to add that even the most grueling tasks can be joyful if we approach them with a wink and a smile. WOW: You have an attitude everyone should aspire to duplicate. What a great take on life and views. Thanks for sharing a little of yourself with us. Good luck with your writing!
Labels: Laura Seltz, WOW Spring 2007 Contest
We appreciate your patience through the rough waters this past month. Our issue coming out later than expected, and our switch to the new server, oy! Thankfully, now we're smooth sailing and moving much faster. ;-)
Our normal prize schedule allows winners to receive prizes within the month notified. Since our issue went up late last month (July 16), we are one week behind in sending out the prizes. But, don't fret! They are scheduled to be shipped out Tuesday July 31.
I know you all are anxious to receive your goodie bags, and you can be assured that you'll receive them in a weeks time -- as fast as UPS can deliver.
Thanks again for your patience, and be sure to give us a shout when you receive them.
Angela & Team WOW!
Labels: Flash Fiction Contest, Update, WOW Spring 2007 Contest
Spring 2007 Contest--1st Place Winner!
Lauri Griffin has three children, one husband, one dog, and a variable number of guppies. She works with gifted children and manages a literacy program for struggling readers. She also writes regularly on the subject of family fun at http://www.families.com/lauri/
. Visit her blog, Lauri’s Reflections
for her thoughts on writing, creativity, motherhood, and fun websites that catch her attention. She is working on several writing projects. WOW: Lauri, major Kudos to you for your 1st Place Win! How does it feel to take the top spot? Lauri
: Winning is fun! I like it! I'm still a little stunned. I had to look at the site a few times before I really believed it said I won. WOW: I’d bet you’re not the first winner to double check the site. Now that reality has set in, could you tell us what inspired the idea behind “It Would Mean a Lot”? Was there anything from real life inside your story? Lauri
: I mulled the prompt over for a couple of days. I wanted a good surprise of an ending. We've had some good friends divorce so the emotion is true, but none of the circumstances in the story are from real life. WOW: But your writing makes it real. You obviously have experience. In fact, in your bio you mention that you’re working on several writing projects. Would you care to share your favorite one (or more than one) with us and our readers? Lauri
: I've got two short stories that I'm currently submitting with ideas and starts for lots more. I'm revising two novels. One I've worked on for years. My writing friends are starting to yell at me to send it out. Deadlines are good for me. Otherwise I keep tinkering with things and getting ideas for making them better. WOW: Yes, tinkering is wonderful for a while, and then every writer needs to determine that critical “breakaway” moment to leave their work alone. You’ve brought us to a good point for encouragement. By the way, have you found any books or authors who you deem more helpful or encouraging than others for your writing? Lauri
: Early on I couldn't have kept writing without Bird by Bird
by Anne Lamott
. She very honestly pegs so many emotions and weird mental stuff that go into writing. I remember laughing wildly the first time I read the book. My own copy is highlighted, underlined, and lent out a lot. The book I don't lend out is A Writer's Book of Days
by Judy Reeves
. The book has great daily prompts for writing, but also lots of encouragement and ideas for bringing all the senses into writing. The Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
by Donald Maass
is also a favorite. He takes writers through all kinds of exercises designed to make characters multi-layered, to connect themes, and to build tension. He's very big on having tension on every page. I know my writing has grown a lot due to following the exercises in the book. WOW: Isn’t it great to have mentors, even when they exist in books? They help us directly or indirectly with our focus and our goals. Do you have specific long-term goals? Lauri
: I have so many goals. But I also have children who tend to get in the way of getting things done. Most of the time that's okay. I consider myself a mother first. As it is they are all growing up way too fast. WOW: They do that, don’t they? Way too fast. Time spirals out of control the older they get, and this is one great reason for writing our thoughts down, to keep track. You mention your Blog, LauriReflections, for your thoughts, creativity, motherhood and fun. Has your Blog motivated any of your writing projects or ideas? Lauri
: Blogging has helped boost my confidence level. Getting comments from people all over the world is so fun. I love knowing that my thoughts or even just cool websites I've found have helped someone, or made someone think, or prompted them to get out that journal or notebook, or just smile. It's also led to some paid non-fiction writing on parenting and education. WOW: Congratulations for getting paid from Blogging. Payment also helps boost confidence and I bet you, in turn, boost a lot of kids’ egos. You mention in your bio that you manage a literacy program for struggling readers. How did you get involved with such a worthy cause? Lauri
: Even though my twins are quite bright and we had done everything "right" they struggled with reading. So I started to read about literacy and theories on how the brain learns and works. I was also looking for a part time job with family friendly hours. I happened to meet a woman at a class on brain theory who was leaving this position. I love helping kids learn to read. And our program’s goal is to actually make the kids love reading, not just be good readers. WOW: A love of reading is a key to learning. I’ve been involved with classroom reading skills, and it’s so important for growth. On a side note, is your literacy program inspiring for your writing? I refer, actually, to the children in the program.Lauri
: I would like to say that it does, but if anything it hurts my writing. Not only does it take time, but also a lot of mental energy. I'm always trying to find the answer for each child. So I read up on dyslexia and different learning disabilities and theories of things. I think that teaching and working with the literacy program use up the same mental energy as writing. So instead of letting my mind daydream about a character, I'm busy wondering if a certain program or another one will work better, or I find myself thinking about books they would like. WOW: That’s understandable. I think many parents and teachers can completely understand your position. But your devotion to the children is commendable. Speaking of devotion, do you have any final words for everyone in our devoted audience? Lauri
: Give the WOW contest a try. When I thought of a story idea for the prompt I thought it must not be original or it wouldn't have just popped into my head. And I thought for sure that anyone reading it would see the ending coming from a mile away. But people told me the ending surprised them. I'm very glad I gave it a try. It's hard to judge your own writing. I'm incredibly fortunate to have a marvelous online critique group and several local writing buddies. They inspire me with their writing and encourage me with my own. Finding people who support you and believe in you is crucial. WOW: That’s a great perspective to leave with everyone. Thanks so much for sharing your time and yourself. We wish you the best of luck in your future writing dreams!
If you haven’t read Lauri’s winning entry yet, check it out here: Spring 2007 Contest Winners.
Labels: Flash Fiction Contest, Lauri Griffin, short story, WOW Spring 2007 Contest, WOW Women On Writing
WOW! Spring 2007 Flash Fiction Contest Announcement
We know first hand how much focused sweat, stolen time, and salty tears many writers pour into any piece of work, especially one (or two) for a contest with a focused prompt, guidelines, and a deadline.
We’ve notified our spring contest winners, runners up and honorable mentions. If you haven’t heard from us, at least be assured that we enjoyed reading your work, and don’t give up. Endeavor to submit your work again. We wish you all the best with your writing dreams!
Last of all, please know that we do appreciate everyone’s writing efforts, and we do consider judging a bittersweet honor, since we can’t place every writer in the top 35.
Warmest regards to all contest entrants,
Sue & Team WOW!
Labels: WOW Spring 2007 Contest